The King of South Central: How “End of Watch” Keeps It Real


With End of Watch, the cop drama starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena, writer-director David Ayer solidifies his reputation as a filmmaker who knows—and shows—the LAPD like no other. He also has a knack for revealing the underbelly of Los Angeles. With help from movie location manager (and man-around-South L.A.) Earl West, who also worked with Ayer on Training DayHarsh Times, and Street Kings, we map some of the real-life homes, buildings, and public spaces featured in the film:

    • Page 1A.) A climactic scene involving the cartel takes place at this South L.A. apartment complex. “This just says ‘inner-city apartment,’” notes West (pictured above). “This area is no breeze.”

    • Page 1B.) Officers Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Pena) kick the door in at this house, which West selected because it is so unwelcoming. “This,” says West, “is a crack house.”

    • Page 1C.) West selected this house as the location for a scene in which the cartel is harboring immigrants. “If you look at it,” explains West, “it doesn’t look like anything is off. It’s a generic house.”

    • Page 1D.) This empty lot just up the street from Pueblo Gardens is where officers Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Pena) discover a burned-out car. It was a great location for filming because access was available to a nearby roof, there’s plenty of street parking, and “it looks so, so desolate,” says West.

    • Page 1E.) Access to a nearby roof and adjacent yards made filming “the killing scene” in this alley easy. “I know everyone in this alley,” says West. “We shot Street Kings here, too.”

    • Page 1F.) West refers to this location as “the Welfare House.” The production shot here for one or two days.

    • Page 1G.) In the movie this house, set apart from others on Woodlawn Avenue, goes up in flames.

    • Page 1H.) This is “Big Evil’s House,” where the villain (Maurice Compte) throws a house party complete with girls dancing on the roof and a custom throne.

Photographs by Israel Lemus


ALSO: Read “The Cop Whisperer,” writer-at-large Ed Leibowitz’s October profile of filmmaker David Ayer, who grew up in West Adams and now works in Silver Lake.